Breaking: Shane taps out as an active H1 Unlimited driver
From the Madison Courier:
Jimmy Shane announces retirement after a spectacular career
By DAVID CAMPBELL
Jimmy Shane saw his first Unlimited hydroplane in person when he was 13 years old. From that moment on there was no doubt in his mind that he would drive one of those big boats when he grew up. But he had no idea he would end up being one of the very best to ever do it.
Shane is officially expected to announce his retirement from driving on Thursday, bringing to an end a spectacular career. In just 10 seasons as a full-time driver — mostly for Miss Madison Racing — Shane accomplished everything there is to accomplish and leaves the sport at or near the top in every statistical category.
Pretty amazing stuff for a kid from the Baltimore area who was lucky to even get to see a race live and in person.
“When I was 13 I saw the Miss Budweiser on tilt at Seattle and I knew what I wanted to do,” Shane said. “I set some personal goals for myself and challenged myself, but I had no idea that it would turn out the way it would.”
Shane came from a racing family. Parents Stu and Robin were accomplished inboard drivers and older sister, Kelly, was making a name for herself up and down the east coast for her aggressive driving and wins.
Jimmy Shane got a chance to attend the Seattle race with his parents and was instantly hooked.
He had watched the Unlimiteds on TV growing up, but Seattle was his first chance to see them in person.
Shane got his first chance to drive an Unlimited when Mike Weber hired him to serve as backup driver for Ted Porter’s Formulaboats.com team. Young Jimmy even tested both of the team’s boats — the famed Miss Budweiser T-5 and T-6 hulls — during a test session on Lake Celina, Ohio. Over the next few years, he subbed for regular drivers Mike Allen and Mark Evans at various events.
But it wasn’t until Porter hired Shane full-time to drive before the 2012 season that he got a chance to show what he was made of.
“I can’t thank the Weber brothers enough for giving me a chance in an Unlimited,” Shane said. “When Ted hired me in 2012, I never thought I would get a chance to do it.”
Shane picked up two wins that first season and added four more victories and his first National High Points Championship the following year. After the 2013 season, he jumped to Miss Madison Racing to replace the retiring Steve David and never looked back.
If filling David’s shoes was difficult, Shane never showed it. In eight seasons with Miss Madison, driving under sponsors Oberto Beef Jerky and HomeStreet Bank, Shane won 19 races and six driver’s championships. He also won five APBA Gold Cups with the team — the last two on the team’s home waters in Madison, Indiana.
“Winning that first race in 2012 was just amazing. That’s the kind of feeling that you’re just never going to get back,” Shane said. “I know the team’s history in the Gold Cup so to win that first one with Oberto was really special. I know how much it meant to the city and the team. And of course to win five Gold Cups was amazing.
“I think my favorite stat is that my dad won seven national championships in his class and I got to win seven in my class,” Shane said. “That was really cool.”
Shane’s career stats are only surpassed by the greatest in the sport’s history. His 25 wins are tied with Dean Chenoweth for fourth-most in the history of the sport, behind only Dave Villwock (67), Bill Muncey (62) and Chip Hanauer (61).
His eight championships trail only Villwock’s 10 and his five Gold Cups are behind only Hanauer (11), Villwock (10) and Muncey, (. Miss Madison President Charlie Grooms said the team was blessed to have a driver like Shane, not only for his abilities in the cockpit, but his personality out of the boat as well.
“Jimmy has been a phenomenal member of the team, and a member of the family for a long time. He has certainly achieved monumental things, personally, professionally and for the team and for our sponsor partner,” Grooms said. “We’re extremely happy for our time together and certainly want to make this transition celebratory. More than anything else, we just want to give a heart-felt thank you from the team and organization for what Jimmy has brought to us.”
Shane began kicking around the possibility of walking away a year ago. Now 34 years old with two young sons and a rocketing career at aerospace manufacturer Blue Origin, Shane moved from Seattle to San Antonio last winter and plans on spending as much time with his kids as he can. As far as he’s concerned, his driving days are over.
“I’m the kind of guy who sets goals and makes plans and my goal now is to go to every sporting event and every extracurricular activity with my kids that I can,” Shane said with a laugh. “Colton test-drove a junior-class hydroplane last year and he plans on doing that next summer and that’s what I’m going to Grooms said the search for the next Miss Madison driver will begin immediately and he expects “a flurry of applications.” He said the team plans on hiring a new driver sooner rather than later, but he also wants to give fans time to honor Shane and say goodbye.
“We have the (H1 Unlimited) banquet this weekend and I know that there are some things that will happen there, but this is Jimmy’s time,” Grooms said. “We want to give him the spotlight.”
“All of us at HomeStreet Bank congratulate Jimmy Shane on his successful hydroplane racing career,” said Mark K. Mason, HomeStreet’s Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to have Jimmy as the driver of Miss HomeStreet for seven years. We wish him well in his future pursuits and thank him in advance for his commitment to supporting the team going forward. As the sponsor of the Miss Madison/Miss HomeStreet racing team, we look forward to what the future holds.”
Shane said that he knew there were big shoes to fill when he replaced David in 2014 and while there were a few ups and downs, he wouldn’t trade his time with Miss Madison Racing for anything.
“Being accepted by the Miss Madison team and the City of Madison is the most wonderful experience that I could have imagined,” Shane said. “When we won, I had 13,000 of the biggest supporters in the world and when we lost, I definitely heard about it, but I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The support from this fan base is unlike any other in the sport and it’s been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I can’t thank all of them enough.”